Today's news

April 15, 2005

Financial fears for 11 universities
Government officials are monitoring 11 universities "at risk" of financial failure. Secret files obtained under the Freedom of Information Act reveal a catalogue of financial difficulties facing universities over the past five years. They include running out of money, severely under-recruiting students and serious management weaknesses. All references to the universities' names and other factors that might identify them have been deleted from the documents by the Higher Education Funding Council for England, which is refusing to make public the universities involved. The universities themselves have not been informed that they are on the "worry list".
The Guardian

Labour says crisis in university science is a 'misperception'
Fears of a crisis in university science are due to "a quite serious misperception", Labour claimed yesterday. Lord Sainsbury, the science minister, said there were enough undergraduates studying science and maths subjects. But he promised a third Labour government would provide £250 million from the Department of Trade and Industry budget to improve laboratories in secondary schools and "set new standards" in science teaching. Employers' groups, businesses and science societies have complained that recent closures of physics and chemistry departments threaten the future of teaching and research in these disciplines. They say there are not enough science graduates coming into the labour market.
The Financial Times

Academics to monitor impact of top-up fees
Ministers have commissioned a major review of the impact of top-up fees on universities as nerves mount about the effects of the new system on the higher education market. The review team at the Institute of Education will be led by the former Warwick University registrar Michael Shattock and will look at the impact of variable fees on university and college management and finances. It will also consider whether the £3,000 cap on fees should be kept the same, raised or removed. The review has been commissioned by the Department for Education and Skills and is the first evidence to be gathered for the 2009 review of the system.
The Guardian

Why degrees cost more in Britain
Britain is the most expensive place in Europe to study in higher education and the third most expensive in the Western world, according to a study by a North American think-tank. The high cost of studying at a British university, before variable tuition fees are introduced next year, was disclosed as the average graduate debt was found to have risen by 12 per cent to £13,501. In June, three quarters of graduates will leave university shouldering an overall debt of £246 million. With an average graduate pretax income of £19,810, most will be expected to start repayment on their student loans and overdrafts immediately.
The Times, The Times Higher Education Supplement (April 15)

Politicians urged not to overlook post-16 education
Whoever wins the general election should campaign to stop pupils dropping out of school at 16 and end the divide between academic and vocational education, lecturers said today. In their first public outing together since deciding to work towards a merger, the two lecturers' unions, the Association of University Teachers and Natfhe, set out a six-point higher education challenge for politicians and urged them not to focus just on schools.
The Guardian

Student bias at top universities
Most of the top 13 universities in Britain still take far fewer students from state schools than they should, according to a study published yesterday. The Sutton Trust education charity said the proportion of state pupils admitted to leading universities as a result of the public and political focus on entry patterns since 1997 had increased significantly. But nine of the 13 were still at least ten percentage points below their benchmark recruitment targets, based on candidates’ A-level results, and 3,000 state pupils a year who made the grade failed to get places.
The Times

Essay companies 'helping students to cheat'
Companies that sell essays to university students were accused today of devaluing the British education system. Fears have been raised that the practice of selling students either pre-written essays or essays that have been written to order may encourage cheating. Students are able to buy “off-the-shelf” essays for £15-£50 or custom-written essays for £130-£200. The companies claim the essays are intended to be used as models to aid research but a BBC investigation found that the essays were being sold and submitted as finished work.
The Scotsman, The Evening Standard

Students get a guide to being good neighbours
An etiquette guide has been produced for undergraduates attending Edinburgh University in an effort to ensure they are good neighbours. Copies of the guide setting out the rules of tenement living are to be given to thousands of students in an attempt to build bridges with local communities. The leaflets will be handed out to 4,000 students in university-owned accommodation for the first time this week as they start to think about moving out of student halls into private flats. A further 4,000 will be handed out to new students arriving in September.
The Scotsman

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